Consequences of public reactions against corruption in India

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by Dr. Rajkumar Singh 4 January 2020

The due time for 16th national general election is the year 2014 but the post–2009 general elections phase in India continued to remain a crucial one. It witnessed the anger in the minds of the people which was steadily built up as scams of huge proportion burst one after another-the 2-G spectrum scam, Commonwealth games scam, Aadarsh Society scam in which high level politicians, civil servants and military officer were found to be involved with government looking the other way failing to take swift and decisive action, and moving only under the direction of the Supreme Court. Public confidence in the willingness and ability of government to act against corruption was shaken and India came to be known as one of the most corrupt countries in the world. The large scale all pervading corruption compelled Anna Hazare to launch fast in April 2011 at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi. At the time the people were so outraged by scandals after scandals of large proportion coming out, that they responded in a big way when Anna and his associates gave a call for fight against corruption.

Dimensions of corruption

Corruption exists at the ‘culturing edge level’ the-day-to-day engagement of people with lower level of administration as also big corruption at the highest level. There is no doubt that the entire political system and public life including government needs to be cleaned. It is a deeply–entrenched, systemic problem that is corroding the nation, widening the gulf between ordinary citizens and those with access to power and privilege, and under-mining the faith of people in democratic institutions.However, President Pratibha Patil in her Republic Day address on 26 January 2012 warned the reformers not to shake the tree of state so hard in their drive to remove bad fruit that the tree itself is brought down. In the context nobody can disagree with the idea that India’s democratic system must be safeguarded while introducing reforms in its political institutions.

In the forthcoming general elections to the members of Lok Sabha the ruling Congress Party and the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party with their allies and associates is likely to face each other in a straight way. In the election if the Congress party wants to worm its way back into middle class respectability, it has to raise its own decency index. At the very minimum, the country needs to see for itself that the Congress has respect for constitutional and political institutions. As the oldest and the most responsible political party, it is the Congress’s historic burden to inculcate good manners in the polity.

Status of BJP

 On other is the BJP and its associates, but equally for both, winning the coming elections in India is not easy. The Party’s enthusiasm in the BJP’s third consecutive triumph in Gujrat’s 2012 state assembly elections is understandable. It has, at large, began to think this victory in terms of national context and with analysis, it is hopeful about the prospect of 2014 Parliamentary election. In party’s expectations the viability of Chief Minister Narendra Modi as a Prime Ministerial candidate and the electoral appeal of Hindutva is rated high. For the past decade, most observers of Indian politics have believed the electoral appeal of Hindutva to be on the decline. In the current electoral strategy the party is not fixed whether the continuing decline of Hindutva can be a arrested, or even reversed or the Party can only succeed by emphasising claims of “development” and “good governance.” In any case the BJP should avoid easy generalisations about Hindutva role in facilitating the party’s dominance. As per general assumption Modi’s success has accrued from a “post – Hindutva” strategy based on “development”. However, the central problem for the Congress and the BJP would be to face regional parties in which most have taken the form of dynasty. Each one of those now has a strong, proprietary votebank and total ownership of its party. In earlier elections these regional parties had been the greatest game changer in our politics. Each one has learnt the art of leveraging his regional power to grab a share of the national pie. These regional parties may be limited by geography but cannot be challenged by a national party.

Status as today

Today the people are in a mood which comes rarely in the life of a country. They are looking forward starry eyed, to a new direction, a new era, a life. Despite the conduct of so many elections so far, the actual exercise of power in the country has yet to reflect real democracy. To the extent that democracy in India has lagged behind in its sacred responsibility of promoting and protecting public good, it has certainly failed. It is the state that needs to accommodate the interests of different stakeholders on important issues by building political consensus and by being transparent in the way it functions. The tardy functioning of democracy since independence has produced in India a vast college of political leaders at various levels but there has been a failure to develop political capabilities to deal with expanding pressures in a empowering society, to broaden the social base of nationalism, and to find political cover for pragmatic actions. The government will certainly have to do a lot more in achieving sustainable, socially equitable growth. For that, the country needs a strong popular movement that puts pressure on the administration. If the Indian republic is to flourish and prosper, it cannot be left to the mercy of politicians alone. The national conscience has to be aroused to such a degree that it would cease to tolerate falsehood and dishonesty in public life. India’s people need to be an active part of the political process before they can be the agents of change, and the masters of their own destiny.